Tuesday, October 28, 2014

2014 NC State Fair

Grant was jazzed about the idea of going to the fair this year. Since he remembers some of what we did last year at the fair, when he found out we were going this year he talked a lot about what he wanted to do. This year's trip was a little shorter than years past. I work at the fair for my job and I've spent entirely too many days at fairs this year. But I couldn't not take him, he was just too excited.

Usually we go on the last Sunday. This year I decided we should go on the last Saturday and I could have Sunday to recoup before work on Monday. Bad idea. Saturday at the fair when you're already anti-fair is just plain silly. 

Grant's Fair To-Do List:

  • See animals
  • Eat a hot dog
  • Eat ice cream
I used our staff parking (yay!) and the poultry stuff was closest to us, so we visited that stuff first.

Checking out the pond

This thing was big and mouthy 
Check out the one-legged guy in the middle (it's not
standing on one leg...it only has one leg)
And there was more interesting stuff inside the poultry tent:

Purdy duck
Baby things
Fun spotted things
Poultry with fun hair-dos
Grant's favorite were the big turkeys. Loved 'em and had
to point out all of them for us.
I find them creepy and slightly ugly.
We made our way towards the kids tent which was pretty crowded but Grant got to see the T-Rex skull in there so that was exciting for him.



We meandered through the building with the dairy cows (and to say hi to my co-worker)...

Best seat in the house!
And then over to the Expo building to get a better view of animals and some over-sized produce.

Fun balloon display!
Huge pumpkins!
My friend & co-worker, Penny, was set up in the Expo building which is also where the milking booth is. She asked Grant if he wanted to pet a cow. Of course he did. So Grant got to go behind-the-scenes to see the dairy cows that weren't being milked right then.

See animals: check.
Telling Penny "It's so soft!"
I was kind of amazed that he was so willing to pet her. Penny asked if he wanted to milk one and he said yes. Again...kind of amazed. So after his VIP cow petting experience, we hopped in line to milk one. He'd been very shy that day, maybe the crowd intimidated him. But he sat right down with the girl and she showed him how to do it.


He says he sort of got milk to come out :)
After that we got some lunch and walked around trying to avoid the busier spots.

Hot dog: check.

There was a fireman giving out hats...he wears it all the time now.


Grant remembered going on the kiddie roller coaster last year so we stood in a crazy long line to do that again. It acutally moved pretty fast though.



Sadly, that's where our fair experience ends. One ride. We were there for about 3 hours and after walking back through a crowd...I just kind of had had it. I felt terrible because Grant was disappointed but I had to go. We didn't get ice cream at the fair so we took Grant to Cold Stone when we left. As it turns out, chocolate ice cream makes you forget that mean Mama made you leave the fair early :)

Friday, October 17, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Jennie to share some of my favorite stuff from the past week.

1) Friday I got to wear a new scarf that I made!

2) Friday night Grant spent the night with his Gramma & Grandpa so Husband & I could go to the Hurricanes home opener. We were very excited! Then they lost. But we haven't had a date night in a while so it was nice to just spend some time together.


3) We practice a lot at home with Grant helping him learn to write. He's gotten so good at writing his first name (I can't believe it's not all over our walls yet because he loves to write it!). Now we're working on his full name and he's even more excited about that!
He was so proud of himself!
4) After consulting with a friend who told me how to make real chicken & dumplings, I tried it out on Sunday (since I had a chicken in my freezer). It turned out great! Seriously, I've been eating it for lunch all week. The best part of making it, though, was my helper. Grant begged to help me. So when it came time, he was the official adder of the dumplings (and stir-er...very important jobs). 

5) Our State Fair started this week. Which I sort of dread since I have to work out there. BUT this will be our last fair of the year. I am looking forward to taking Grant, though. As much as I don't enjoy it when I'm working out there, it's much more fun when we get to watch Grant enjoying himself!
Throwback to my first year working at the fair...back
when I still got excited about it!
Happy Friday everyone!
Have a great weekend!
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Pretty Rock

I try to be very patient with Grant. I try to make myself pause and realize that, at 4 years old, he sees everything much differently than I do. When he points to something that I might not give a second look to and calls it beautiful - whatever it is - I try to make my adult mind look at it a little different. Adulthood ruins a lot of things that parenthood has the chance to kind of bring back, right? When Grant and I go for walks and he calls it our adventure and pretends things, it reminds of playing in the woods behind my parent's house and all the fun we had in our "forts" back there. I try to re-appreciate things like that because I can see how amazed Grant is by the things he's learning and discovering.

I think I maybe need to work a little harder on that sometimes.

Sunday, Grant and I were getting ready to run some errands. I was getting him in his car seat when he peaked in the cup holder and pulled something out. He held his hand out to me and saw this off-white/yellow colored hard thing in his hand. Paying zero attention to what had to have been a look of pride on his face, my adult mind saw an old piece of string cheese (a snack he occasionally has in the car). I grabbed it, threw it over my shoulder and asked him to get in his seat. He started sobbing. HARD. And then wailing so loud that Husband came out of the house at a sprint thinking that I had to have shut Grant's hand in the door or something.

He was sobbing "It was a pretty rock! It was my pretty rock and I wanted to keep it!" So...not old string cheese. I had forgotten that my mother-in-law had had my car seat Friday & Saturday while Grant spent the night with them. He told us that he picked up the rock while they were at a store and he wanted to keep it. All this while I'm crawling around on the ground looking for the rock. Husband is asking what color it is, I told him a dirty off white. Grant is wailing "Its orange! Its my pretty orange rock." It was honestly heartbreaking, he was so upset.

But Husband saved the day. After a 10-15 minute search of the area where it could have gone over my shoulder, Husband found the rock and Grant's little teary face lit up. And, to be fair, it was kind of orange. He was happy after that and was in the car seat in no time ready to head to Target. Husband was explaining to him that it was an accident and I was apologizing like crazy. Grant said to me "It was an accident, Mama. I'm not mad at you. I love you." Maybe that should have made me feel better but I felt even more horrible after that. He only mentioned it one other time that day and not since then (which is odd because the he is The Boy Who Never Forgets). We ended up having a really great evening together but I had major guilt hanging over me.

The whole time we were looking for the rock, all I could think of was this saying I've seen from time to time:

I know it's not exactly like what happened with Grant, but it was on repeat in my head and there's a good message there. I definitely learned a lesson and I'm going to work harder on my patience.

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Recipe: Baked Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

This is the last of my new recipes from last week. I've always been intrigued by gnocchi and a little intimidated by it. Plus, most of the gnocchi dishes I've seen have either been served with a tomato based sauce (doesn't excite me) or a pesto (can't stand pesto). When I found this recipe for Baked Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese it seemed very first-time-gnocchi-cooker-and-eater friendly. 

I was right! I love that the cheeses in it aren't crazy specialty cheeses, that always makes me more likely to make something. I got this dish ready to go the night before so I could just pop it in the oven when I got home and it could bake while Husband grilled some pork tenderloin and my beans cooked. We ate it as a side dish but I'm thinking it could totally hold it's own as a main dish.

Looking at this picture makes me sad because I know there
are no more leftovers in my fridge. (Also, I doubled the recipe...
that's why it's in the 9x13 casserole dish.)
Baked Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Potato Gnocchi (found in the pasta aisle)
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used skim)
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley (or chopped fresh, if you want)
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and spray your casserole dish with cooking spray (If you're not doubling the above recipe, like I did, an 8x8 casserole dish should work. If doubling, use a 9x13 dish.) 
  2. Cook your gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and transfer to your casserole dish. 
  3. Original recipe says to do this in a skillet but I used a sauce pan. In a medium sauce pan, melt butter then add your garlic and onion powder. Let that cook a few minutes to soften your garlic then add the flour and whisk until it's bubbly.
  4. Add the milk, salt, and pepper. Stir until its thickened (2-3 minutes?).
  5. Add the cheddar, mozzarella, and 1/3 cup Parmesan and remove from the heat. Continue to whisk until the cheese is melted. 
  6. Pour the cheese sauce over the gnocchi (you may have to mix it some). Top with the remaining Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, and sprinkle with parsley. 
  7. Bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Let stand a few minutes before serving...try not to attack the casserole pan with your fork while try to be patient.
Recipe Source: Living Better Together


Notes/Suggestions:
  • Like I said, I love that this recipe uses "normal" cheeses. It's what made me pick it. I did shred the cheddar cheese & Parmesan cheese myself (I used a sharp white cheddar and fresh Parmesan) but my mozzarella was the pre-shredded in the bag kind. 
  • I love leftovers, that's why I doubled this. It reheated pretty well, a little greasy but that's normal with mac & cheese.
  • Grant didn't want to try this, he said "I don't like it". I ended up telling him that it was mac & cheese with special noodles (Is that a lie? I'm not sure). He ended up trying it and ate at least half of what I put on his plate and told me "Mmmm. That is good. Mama. You...are the best cooker." I think he got a popsicle that night.
  • I served this with THIS pork tenderloin recipe and some green beans (Grant's current favorite vegetable - he had two huge helpings that night). Awesome flavor and you can grill it or cook it in the oven (we've always grilled it but I like that the oven can be my back-up plan in case of rain).
Enjoy!

Friday, October 10, 2014

High Five for Friday

Today I'm linking up with Lauren and Jennie to share some of my favorite stuff from the past week.

1) Saturday we were supposed to go to Fireman's Day to watch a parade of firetrucks and have some fun. But Grant woke up sick. So we had a kind of lazy Saturday and then kicked off a good Sunday with Grant's current favorite breakfast: a ham & cheese omelet.
He ate that whole thing and then asked for applesauce.
2) On Sunday we worked out a "chore chart" for Grant and I started teaching him how to do a few things. He's learning to use the computer and he has a leappad, so he's going to start earning his time on that stuff with some simple chores. We started with him learning to fold his laundry (and at the moment he finds this as fun as playing computer games!).

3) I love when I have all the ingredients on hand to make myself a yummy treat. More often than not when I bake, its for other people. But over the weekend I really wanted a scone with my coffee so I made some maple oat scones (with pecans). They hit the spot!


4) I had a really yummy line-up for dinner this week. This Chicken & Dumplings Casserole was probably my favorite this week (followed by the three cheese baked gnocchi that I'll post about next week)!


5) Mid-week I took a break from cooking so we could try a new BBQ place ("new" meaning we've never been there). I have an art tote thing for Grant that pretty much stays in my bag. He loves to color when we go out to eat. Wednesday while we waited, he got in some practice writing his name. He's getting so good at it! And I love how proud of himself he gets :)


Grant is really excited that today is Friday because he's heading to Grandma & Grandpa's for a sleepover so Mama & Daddy can go to the Hurricanes home opener tonight! 
Happy Friday everyone!
Have a great weekend!
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